“Backward Inclusion?”

Module 4 Blog–“Backward Inclusion?”

On an especially positive note, I was encouraged this week during our curriculum leaders’ meeting to see the direct correlation between the topics for our school’s PLC work and all of the coursework for my master’s degree. I have also been selected to participate in the pilot implementation of the new teacher evaluation process. Even more inspiring is that the past two weeks have brought forth further integration between my work as a special education teacher and the needs of all students. In my school’s PLC work, our special education team has focused on self-advocacy skills as well as a range of work habits.  In a discussion thread this week, one colleague stated: “I think it is so critical for students to learn the basic skills such as: how to read a book, how to take notes, how to prepare for a test, how to study….basic organizational skills”. I responded by referencing an article concerning the Common Core, in which the author appears to share these sentiments: “To succeed with key content and key cognitive strategies, students need proficiency in a range of academic learning skill and behaviors. These behaviors include goal setting: study skills…self-reflection…persistence with difficult tasks…and time-management skills” (Conley, 2011, p. 4).

I strongly believe these “life” skills must keep in the forefront for all students. I hear fellow high school teachers share that they often expect students to already have all of these skills–forgetting that many students are not strong in these areas. Input from colleagues in this course indicates the need continues well into college. Additionally, numerous discussion posts addressed the increasing need for technological skills—also well supported by Parkay, Hass & Anctil (2010) who state: “Clearly, a critical form of literacy for the future is the ability to use computers for learning and solving” (p. 61).

As a special education teacher who has “lived through” 30 years of technological changes as well as legislative changes and their corresponding effects on service delivery models at the high school level, I have witnessed a wide variety of impacts of these changes on individual student achievements. While inclusion has offered clear benefits for many students, I have found this to be the most challenging model to implement. In the article entitled, The “Three A’s” of Creating an Inclusive Curriculum and Classroom, author, Anctil, clarifies with regard to inclusion that “supports will be brought to the child (rather than moving the child to the services) and requires only that the child will benefit from being in the class (rather than keeping up with the other students)” (Rogers, 1993, p. 2) (as cited within Parkay et al., 2010, p. 82).

At times, I have found advocating for my students to be quite challenging, however, while talking with a staff member after school today, I briefly mentioned the focus of my project for this course–designed to assist special education students in getting a head start on their senior portfolio. Interested in hearing more, she said, “That sounds like it would be beneficial for all students…”—then suggested I bring the project to our principal for consideration regarding implementation for all. I must say, the  response of this very influential individual was quite positive and rather unexpected. I smiled to myself, then thought: perhaps this could be a new form of “inclusion” called “backward inclusion”—designed to include general education students!

Conley, D. (2011) Building on the Common Core Educational Leadership, Volume 68 | Number 6 What Students Need to Learn, Pp. 16-20 Retrieved from: http://sae.lausd.net/sites/default/files/3-Conley%20Common%20Core%20Article-March%202011.pdf

Parkay, F.W., Hass, G., & Anctil, E.- 2010: Curriculum Leadership; Readings for Developing Quality Educational Programs, 9th ed.; Allyn & Bacon, Boston, MA, USA .

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